Beyond the Call of Duty: 61st Medical Squadron Members Recognized for Off-Duty First-Aid Actions

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gonzalez
  • Space Base Delta 3

The mission of the 61st Medical Squadron is to provide ready, reliable care – anytime, anywhere.

For many in the healthcare profession, this sentiment is ingrained in them, even when they are away from their jobs. So, it is no surprise to SBD 3 members that Airmen of the 61st MDS were recently recognized for providing life-saving medical assistance while away from their normal duties.

Col. Vina “Liz” Howarth, Commander of the 61st Medical Squadron, expressed immense pride in her squadron members and their Wingman attitude. “We are committed to excellence every day in our work,” said Howarth. “It’s especially gratifying to know our team’s dedication to caring for others is present, whether on or off duty.”

Capt. Jeffrey Behrman, clinical nurse, Flight and Operational Medicine, 61st MDS, was enjoying a hiking excursion in the Los Angeles National Forest while on leave. He was made aware of an off-road motorcycle accident, where the rider had gone off a trail ledge and sustained a serious injury.

He set out over the two miles of mountainous terrain to reach the injured rider. Upon arrival, Behrman immediately provided critical first aid and stabilized the rider’s leg fractures. Additionally, he coordinated the rapid extraction and transportation to the emergency services.

“Over the years my friends and I have encountered multiple injured participants in the variety of action sports we take part in,” said Behrman. “Many of us always carry the basic equipment to provide lifesaving care until emergency services can arrive.”

SSgt. Veronica Cordova, executive assistant to the commander, 61st MDS, encountered an incident requiring immediate medical assistance while on temporary duty in San Antonio, Texas. At her hotel, she found an Airman lying on the ground, unresponsive.

Cordova immediately activated the emergency response system, contacted emergency services, and started CPR. Some hotel workers provided a pillow and blankets for comfort. When the paramedics arrived, she was able to relay information about the Airman’s initial condition to them and the care continued.

“My immediate thought was to ensure she got the help she needed,” said Cordova. “I remember thinking the next day that I’m so glad I found her and that I had people around me that helped me too.”

Capt. Heather Baughman, dental support element leader, 61st MDS, was attending an event at a local business one evening. There was a large group of people in attendance enjoying the entertainment, when suddenly a staff member emerged to ask if anyone could help with a medical emergency.

Baughman volunteered and was led to an individual who was having a seizure. She observed the person having difficulty breathing, proceeded to clear their airway and calmly assuring and comforting them until emergency medical technicians arrived on scene.

“After reflecting on the situation,” said Baughman. “Seeing the patient struggling to breathe, I knew I could have an impact by ensuring an open airway and safely monitoring.”

LA AFB is home to excellent, well trained, healthcare providers who are ready to help in a moment’s notice on and off the installation whenever an emergency arises.

“Having knowledge of basic life-saving skills and maintaining an awareness of your surroundings, can make a big difference in patient outcomes during a  medical emergency,” said Howarth.

Recently active-duty members across the DoD were required to complete a new course, Tactical Combat Casualty Care which replaced Self-Aid and Buddy Care across the force. The skills learned in TCCC equip every first responder, both medical and non-medical, of our military with the knowledge of performing basic life-saving skills should the need arise. Although the training is intended for providing emergency care during deployment the odds of using the training during everyday life is a reality.